“Reforming Journalism,” by Marvin Olasky, lays out a disciplined alternative to what usually passes for journalism in America today. Olasky organizes his book in three parts. The first starts with a short situation analysis and then examines basics such as objectivity, motives, details versus abstractions, and likely challenges and pitfalls. The second digs into nuts and bolts of reporting, including collecting information, triaging and organizing material to make it tell a story, effective writing skills, and integrity under fire. The third part describes the history of American journalism (along with some European origins) in a lively, well-documented narrative to explain how we got here; this background sets the stage for how a motivated journalist can make a valuable difference.
Most major news organizations today seem aligned with political movements (name two that are not). Further, many reporters work inside a box of political beliefs. Interestingly, these reporters and their parent organizations all work from essentially the same basic underlying worldview when it comes to how they understand their work, and even how they understand truth. Olasky’s book proposes a fundamental reform for those bold enough to break from the pack. I recommend it in particular for those considering a career in journalism and for those wishing to understand what, besides profit, drives today’s corporate news media.